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Blog Tours book reviews

Blog Tour: The New Mother by Julia Crouch

Published: October 12th, 2021
Publisher: Bookouture
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Psychological Fiction
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this heart-pounding psychological thriller. Thank you to Bookouture for the invitation to take part and the eBook ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

Who would you trust with your precious family?

Wanted: full-time, live-in help for expectant mother. Must be organised, friendly and willing to do anything.

Rachel is determined to be the perfect mother. She has a birth plan, with a playlist and a bag ready by the door. She’s chosen a lovely light cream paint for the nursery, and in wide-eyed, innocent Abbie she’s found the perfect person to help her with her baby.

After all, every mother needs a bit of help, don’t they?

But Rachel needs a little more than most.

She still makes sure her bedroom door is locked before she goes to sleep. She still checks the cameras that are dotted throughout the house.

Rachel trusts Abbie. Even if Abbie’s smiles don’t always reach her eyes, and the stories she tells about her past don’t always add up, it doesn’t matter.

Because Rachel knows better than to trust herself…

From the bestselling author of Her Husband’s Lover, this is a truly gripping story about how far people will go to find a family. Filled with tension and twists to keep you glued to every page, it is perfect for fans of Ruth Ware, Shari LaPena and The Girl on the Train.

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MY REVIEW:

Social media influencer Rachel Rodrigues is about to have her first child, so she advertises on her page for live-in help; someone who will see to her needs as well as those of  her unborn child. Abbie James is Rachel’s biggest fan and can’t believe her luck when she lands the position. But her illusions are soon shattered when she discovers that Rachel’s picture-perfect, #authentic life is actually a carefully curated facade. As the anger and resentment grows, the dark secrets that both women are hiding are slowly revealed, the tension bubbling until it boils over in a heart-pounding finale that will leave you breathless.

Wow! What a ride! This was my first foray into Julia Crouch’s books but it won’t be my last. She had me hooked from the start, suspense and  mystery seeping from every page. The story is narrated by both Rachel and Abbie, who are richly drawn, compelling and unreliable. Rachel is the controlling, difficult and wayward influencer whose life isn’t quite what she sells online, while Abbie is the girl from a difficult background with dreams of a better life who sees Rachel as a kind of saviour. Both women airbrush the truth about themselves to be better liked or get ahead and I liked how they seem to switch roles in terms of who is the good guy or bad guy at different times in the story. 

Rachel’s job as an influencer is a big part of the story. The author not only uses this in the plot itself, but breaks up the story with sporadic ‘Instagram Posts’ that detail some of Rachel’s online content. I loved how these posts created a contrast with what was happening in the narrative, revealing the staged aspect of so-called real life on social media. The author uses Rachel’s influencer status to explore the more damaging aspects of this phenomenon, looking at the effect this can have on the mental and emotional wellbeing of both the poster and the consumer, and making you think about what you see and post online.

Taut, tense, twisty and unputdownable, I loved this gripping psychological thriller and would highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys this genre.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Julia started off as a theatre director and playwright. While her children were growing up, she swerved into graphic design. After writing and illustrating two children’s books for an MA, she discovered that her great love was writing prose. The picture books were deemed too dark for publication, so, to save the children, she turned instead to writing for adults. Her first book, Cuckoo, was published in 2011, and she has been writing what she calls her Domestic Noir novels ever since. She also writes for TV and teaches on the Crime Writing MA at the University of East Anglia. She has three grown up children and lives in Brighton with her husband and two cats, Keith and Sandra.

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BUY THE BOOK:

Amazon| Google Books | Apple Books | Kobo

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Please check out the reviews from the other bloggers taking part in the tour.

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Blog Tour: Lemon by Kwon Yeo-sun (Translated by Janet Hong)

Published: October 14th, 2021
Publisher: Apollo
Genre: Literary Crime Fiction, Contemporary Fiction, Thriller, Translated Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio

Happy Publication Day to this intriguing and thought-provoking novel. Thank you to Jade at Head of Zeus for the invitation to take part and the gifted ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

In the summer of 2002, nineteen-year-old Kim Hae-on was murdered in what became known as the High School Beauty Murder. There were two suspects: Shin Jeongjun, who had a rock-solid alibi, and Han Manu, to whom no evidence could be pinned. The case went cold.

Seventeen years pass without justice, and the grief and uncertainty take a cruel toll on her younger sister, Da-on, in particular. Unable to move on with her life, Da-on tries in her own twisted way to recover some of what she’s lost, ultimately setting out to find the truth of what happened.

Told at different points in time from the perspectives of Da-on and two of Hae-on’s classmates, Lemon is a piercing psychological portrait that takes the shape of a crime novel and is a must-read novel of 2021.

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MY REVIEW:

“And so began the revenge of the yellow angel. Lemon, I muttered. Like a chant of revenge, I muttered: Lemon, lemon, lemon.”

Set in Korea, Lemon examines the murder of nineteen-year-old Kim Hae-on in July 2002 and the impact it had on those left behind. Told by a trio of narrators, the story begins with the interrogation of one of the two boys suspected of her murder, and then follows chronologically to the present day as her sister searches for the truth of what happened that summer night. 

The story unfolds from three different perspectives: the victim’s sister, Da-on, and two of her classmates and each has a unique voice that makes them easy to distinguish from one another. But it is Da-on whose voice is the loudest of them all. Hae-on was the beautiful older sister and when she was killed Da-on was left feeling even more inadequate in comparison. To try and fill the void of her sister’s absence Da-on resorted to extreme measures, including extensive plastic surgery, to try and emulate her sister. But it didn’t work and she is still left struggling to move on. Over the years she becomes increasingly focused on Han Manu, one of the boys suspected of Hae-on’s murder, and embarks on an obsessive search for answers and revenge. It would be impossible not to feel for Da-on, her pain so vivid and raw that it makes you want to weep. And while I didn’t always agree with her actions, I did understand them. 

An intriguing and compelling read, there is a dark, haunting atmosphere that pervades each page. Beautifully written, I loved how the author used different writing styles for the different narrators yet still manages to make it all blend together and flow seamlessly. I particularly loved the chapter titled ‘Rope’ as it just felt so unique, so different to anything else I’ve read. But I have to confess that I have been left with mixed feelings about this one and think it will be a bit of a marmite book. I was all set to give this a five star rating but then it ended in such a sudden and ambiguous way. I was left feeling stunned, like I must have missed something as surely that couldn’t be it. I’ve been pondering on it ever since I finished and I still feel the same way. While I think this is a great book that is worth reading, I would caution anyone who reads it to be prepared for a cryptic climax that will make you think about what you just read. 

While it is a short read at just 148 pages, this is a book packed with emotion that examines a variety of topics. Not only does it look at the impact of Hae-on’s death on those still living over the years, but it also looks at how families were torn apart and lives ruined by suspicion. It also explores how a desire for justice can lead to a quest for vengeance and asks if healing is ever really served by doing so. Is it better to sometimes leave things without closure than cause further hurt and pain by focusing on the past?

A thought-provoking and fascinating read, Lemon is a striking and reflective story that will linger long after that final page. 

Rating: ✯✯✯✯✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Kwon Yeo-sun was born in Andong, North Gyeongsang Province of South Korea in 1965. Kwon enjoyed a brilliant literary debut in 1996 when her novel Niche of Green was awarded the Sangsang Literary Award. At the time, novels that reflected on the period of the democratization movement in South Korea, were prevalent.

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MEET THE TRANSLATOR:

Janet Hong is a writer and translator based in Vancouver, Canada. She received the 2018 TA First Translation Prize for her translation of Han Yujoo’s The Impossible Fairy Tale, which was also a finalist for both the 2018 PEN Translation Prize and the 2018 National Translation Award. She has translated Ha Seong-nan’s Flowers of Mold, Ancco’s Bad Friends, and Keum Suk Gendry-Kim’s Grass.

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones*| Bookshop.org*| Amazon| Google Books| Apple Books| Kobo
*These are affiliate links

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Please check out the reviews from the other bloggers taking part in the tour.

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Blog Tour: The Lighthouse Witches by C. J. Cooke

Published: September 30th, 2021
Publisher: Harper Collins UK
Genre: Gothic Fiction, Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Horror Fiction, Supernatural Fiction, Fairy Tale
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this gorgeously gothic novel. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and Harper Collins UK for the eBook ARC.

SYNOPSIS:

Upon the cliffs of a remote Scottish island, Lòn Haven, stands a lighthouse.

A lighthouse that has weathered more than storms.

Mysterious and terrible events have happened on this island. It started with a witch hunt. Now, centuries later, islanders are vanishing without explanation.

Coincidence? Or curse?

Liv Stay flees to the island with her three daughters, in search of a home. She doesn’t believe in witches, or dark omens, or hauntings. But within months, her daughter Luna will be the only one of them left.

Twenty years later, Luna is drawn back to the place her family vanished. As the last sister left, it’s up to her to find out the truth . . .

But what really happened at the lighthouse all those years ago?

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MY REVIEW:

“I wasn’t yet wise enough to be terrified.”

A cold, sparsely populated Scottish Island, a deserted and decrepit lighthouse, strange goings on and tales of witches, curses and wildlings. What could be more perfect to read during October?

Bursting with atmosphere, mythology and folklore, this chilling and mysterious tale had me in it’s grasp from beginning to end. There’s a sense of foreboding that pervades the pages; a haunting aura that lingers over every carefully crafted sentence. I devoured this book, unable to put it down despite the goosebumps that pricked my skin.

“The story of her past is not like other people’s, she thinks. Most people’s past can be viewed like cleaved water left in the wake of a boat. Hers? It’s a tangled weave of spider webs and nightmares, never to make sense.”

The story is told in dual timelines: 1998 when Liv Stay has moved to the isle of Lon Haven with her children Sapphire (Saffy), Luna and Clover after being commissioned to paint a mural in the Longing, and 2021 when a now twenty-nine-year-old Luna is pregnant with her first child and still searching for her mother and sisters, who went missing all those years ago. There are also flashbacks to the witch trials of 1662 in the form of a grimoire that young Saffy finds in the bothy and begins reading. The author seamlessly shifts between the three timelines, giving each a distinctive voice and perfectly capturing the different eras. While you know each timeline must be connected, the author keeps you guessing as to how, slowly and teasingly weaving the threads together until you see the full and intricate picture she has woven. The characters are all evocative and compelling, luring you into their stories so deeply that you can’t leave until you know all the secrets they keep locked inside.

“The Longing. The name conjures such terror, such complex memories.”

Gorgeously gothic, the author makes great use of places to help create an atmosphere that sends shivers down your spine. Lon Haven is a place that conjures feelings of claustrophobia and isolation. In the middle of nowhere, it is inhabited by strange residents who tell crazy tales and there is a feeling of fear whether anyone who goes there can make it out again. And then there’s the Longing, which casts a sinister shadow over the story from the start. An eerie, haunting place that is falling apart, we soon learn that it is a place the locals avoid thanks to a history that involves women accused of witchcraft, curses and death. Liv quickly notices strange occurrences happening there and begins to wonder about the tales Isla and others have told her about the Longing. Could they be true? Could it really be cursed? And if so, what does that mean for her and her daughters? 

Enthralling, immersive and filled with gothic menace, The Lighthouse Witches is the perfect read for spooky season.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

CJ Cooke, also known as Carolyn Jess-Cooke, grew up on a council estate in Belfast, Northern Ireland, at the height of the Troubles. She started writing at the age of 7 and pestered publishers for many years with manuscripts typed on her grandparents’ old typewriter and cover notes written on pages ripped from school jotters. 

Since then, she has published 12 works in 23 languages and won numerous awards, including an Eric Gregory Award from the Society of Authors, a Tyrone Guthrie Prize, a K Blundell Award, and she has won a Northern Writer’s Award three times. In 2011, her debut novel, The Guardian Angel’s Journal, was published by Little, Brown. The novel was an international bestseller. Her second novel, The Boy Who Could See Demons (2012), is now a cult classic. Her sixth novel, The Lighthouse Witches, is published in September 2021, and her third poetry collection, We Have to Leave the Earth, is published in October 2021. CJ’s work is concerned with trauma, motherhood, grief, and social justice.

CJ holds a BA (Hons), MA, and PhD from Queen’s University, Belfast, and commenced her academic career in 2005 as a Lecturer in Film Studies at the University of Sunderland. Shortly thereafter, she published four academic works in swift succession on Shakespearean Cinema and Film Sequels, before establishing her career as a poet, editor, and novelist. Now Reader in Creative Writing at the University of Glasgow, CJ convenes the prestigious MLitt Creative Writing and researches ways that creative writing can help with trauma and mental health. She is also the founder and director of the Stay-at-Home! Literary Festival, which is dedicated to providing people with accessible, inclusive, and eco-friendly ways to access literature. She has four children and lives with her family in Glasgow, Scotland.

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones*| Bookshop.org*| Amazon| Google Books| Apple Books| Kobo
*These are affiliate links

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Please check out the reviews from the other bloggers taking part in the tour.

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx

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Blog Tours Book Features Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Blog Tour: Cheltenham Literature Festival

Today I’m taking part in a blog tour that’s a little bit different. I was contacted by Midas PR asking if I would like to take part in a tour to celebrate the return of Cheltenham Literature Festival. They sent me a surprise book from an author who was appearing at the event, which I’m featuring today along with some information about the festival itself.

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I was thrilled to discover that the book I’ve been sent is Murder Isn’t Easy by Carla Valentine as this is one of my most anticipated October releases. I was so excited when I found out and can’t wait to read this fascinating book.

SYNOPSIS:

While other children were devouring the works of Enid Blyton and Beatrix Potter, Carla Valentine was poring through the pages of Agatha Christie novels. It was this early fascination that led to her job as a pathology technician, trained in forensics and working in mortuaries.

Nearly every Agatha Christie story involves one – or, more commonly, several – dead bodies, and for a young Carla, a curious child already fascinated with biology, these stories and these bodies were perfect puzzles.

Of course, Agatha herself didn’t talk of ‘forensics’ in the way we use it now, but in each tale she writes of twists and turns with her expert weave of human observation, ingenuity and genuine science of the era. Through the medium of the ‘whodunnit’, Agatha Christie was a pioneer of forensic science, and in Murder Isn’t Easy Carla illuminates all of the knowledge of one of our most beloved authors.

Published October 21st by Sphere books

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

From Amazon UK: I’m a qualified Anatomical Pathology Technologist (Mortuary Technician) who assisted pathologists with autopsies for almost 10 years. I’m now the technical curator of a Pathology Museum, author and broadcaster and after I finish my Masters Degree I hope to write more books!

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BUY THE BOOK

Waterstones*| Bookshop.org*| Amazon | Google Books| Apple Books| Kobo
*These are affiliate links

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ABOUT CHELTENHAM LITERATURE FESTIVAL

*Taken from the website*
Cheltenham Literature Festival is the world’s first literature festival, leading the way in celebrating the written and spoken word, presenting the best new voices in fiction and poetry alongside literary greats and high-profile speakers, while inspiring over 9,000 school children with a love of books through its Literature for Schools programme. 

Cheltenham Literature Festival is part of  Cheltenham Festivals – a charity delivering a pioneering year-round educational programme culminating in four internationally-acclaimed Jazz, Science, Music and Literature Festivals. Cheltenham Festivals creates experiences that bring joy, spark curiosity, connect communities and inspire change.

The Festival has an accompanying year-round programme of education and talent development outreach including its flagship Reading Teachers = Reading Pupils project which has rolled out nationally, enabling teachers and their pupils to rediscover the joy of reading. The other programmes include: the award-winning Beyond Words, a creative writing project working with vulnerable young people unable to access mainstream education in Gloucestershire, Words That Burn, a national human rights poetry project created in partnership with Amnesty International and Write Now, a unique mentoring, workshop and networking project that nurtures young people’s creative writing abilities.

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The festival is taking place both in person and online in 2021. Events take place 8th-17th October.

You can book tickets to watch online here and find tickets for in-person events here.

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Please check out the posts from the other bloggers taking part in this tour.

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx

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Blog Tours book reviews

Blog Tour – Dinner Party: A Tragedy by Sarah Gilmartin

Published: September 16th, 2021
Publisher: Pushkin Press
Genre: Literary Fiction, Contemporary Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Kindle

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this intriguing debut. Thank you to Tara McEvoy at Pushkin Press for the invitation to take part and the gifted ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

Kate has taught herself to be careful, to be meticulous.

To mark the anniversary of a death in the family, she plans a dinner party – from the fancy table settings to the perfect Baked Alaska waiting in the freezer. Yet by the end of the night, old tensions have flared, the guests have fled, and Kate is spinning out of control.

But all we have is ourselves, her father once said, all we have is family.

Set between the 1990s and the present day, from a farmhouse in Carlow to Trinity College, Dublin, Dinner Party is a dark, sharply observed debut that thrillingly unravels into family secrets and tragedy.

As the past catches up with the present, Kate learns why, despite everything, we can’t help returning home.

A brilliant coming-of-age page-turner about the complications of sibling relationships and the trauma of family secrets, perfect for fans of Kate Atkinson, Maggie O’Farrell and Anne Enright

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MY REVIEW:

“But there were secrets in the centre of secrets that were still trying to come out.”

I started this book expecting a thriller and instead found myself reading an Irish family saga that follows a dysfunctional family from the nineties to the present day. It started strong, opening with protagonist Kate welcoming her family over for dinner to mark the sixteenth anniversary of the death of her twin sister, Elaine. I loved their banter and the vivid descriptions that made me feel as if I could even smell the food cooking. The story then jumps back to August 1999 as we follow Kate and her family through pivotal moments that shape their lives. 

The inner demons and struggles of each of the Gleeson family are addressed in this exploration of fractured family relationships, and the effects of trauma and loss. It is written with both sensitivity and compassion, though it feels a little slow at times. The matriarch of the family, Bernadette, is an overbearing, volatile woman whose behaviour clearly traumatises her children and looms large over every aspect of their lives, even when physically absent. There were many times I wanted to slap her for things she said or did and I was willing them to stand up to her.  Elaine also casts a shadow over every page, but in a very different way. She is either the vivacious, outgoing twin who Kate adores, or makes the atmosphere feel heavy with the loss of her; a spark of light that was extinguished far too soon.

If you like family drama and literary fiction, then you will enjoy this intriguing debut.

Rating: ✮✮✮.5

TW: Eating Disorders

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Sarah Gilmartin is an arts journalist who reviews fiction for the Irish Times.

She has an MFA from University College Dublin (2018/2019) and is co-editor of Stinging Fly Stories (2018).

Her short stories have been listed for the Sean O’Faolain Short Story Award, the RTE Francis MacManus Short Story Award and the Hennessy New Irish Writing Prize.

Sarah won Best Playwright for her play Match at the Short+Sweet Dublin 2019 festival.

Her story The Wife won the 2020 Máirtín Crawford Award at Belfast Book Festival.

Dinner Party: A Tragedy is her first novel, to be published by Pushkin Press in October 2021.

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones*| Bookshop.org*| Amazon| Kobo
*These are affiliate links

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Please check out the reviews from the other bloggers taking part in the tour.

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx

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Blog Tours book reviews

Blog Tour: The Impossible Truths of Love by Hannah Beckerman

Published: October 5th, 2021
Publisher: Amazon Publishing
Genre: Literary Fiction, Contemporary Fiction
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audio

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this beautiful and moving story. Thank you to Rhiannon at FMcM Associates for the invitation to take part and to Amazon Publishing for the gifted copy of the book.

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SYNOPSIS:

From bestselling author Hannah Beckerman comes a moving story about memory, secrets, and what it really means to feel that you’re one of the family.

When Nell’s father makes a deathbed declaration that hints at a long-held secret, it reignites feelings of isolation that have plagued her for years. Her suspicions about the family’s past only deepen when her mother, Annie, who is losing her memories to dementia, starts making cryptic comments of her own.

Thirty-five years earlier, Annie’s life was upended by a series of traumas—one shock after another that she buried deep in her heart. The decisions she made at the time were motivated by love, but she knew even then that nobody could ever understand—let alone forgive—what she did.

As the two women’s stories unravel, a generation apart, Nell finally discovers the devastating truth about her mother’s past, and her own.

In this beautifully observed and emotionally powerful story of identity, memory and the nature of family, Hannah Beckerman asks: To what lengths would you go to protect the ones you love?

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MY REIVEW:

“I want you to know that I’ve always loved you… You need to know that I’ve always loved you even though you were never really mine to love.”

When Nell’s father makes a mysterious deathbed declaration it reignites her long-held feelings of not belonging within her family. Grappling with the death of her father and the slow loss of her mother, Annie, before her eyes from dementia, Nell searches for the truth behind her father’s compassion while also trying to dampen her feelings of being an outsider.

In a second timeline, we go back thirty-five years to when Annie’s world was turned upside down by a series of traumatic events. We follow as she battles to come to terms with them and makes decisions that will have repercussions for everyone in her family. As the two timelines weave together, we watch as Annie’s choices affect Nell in the present day, and how they changed a family forever. 

“In her mind the tapestry of her family history begins to unstitch, the fabric loosening at the seams”

Wow. You really do need the tissues for this one! A beautifully written dual timeline novel about love, family, memory, long-held secrets, and self-discovery, this book takes you on an emotional rollercoaster from beginning to end. The author has chosen to explore some of the most traumatic and devastating events that a family can go through in this book such as the loss of a child, dementia, the sudden death of a parent and decades-old family secrets. Just one of these would be enough to turn someone’s world upside down, and this family goes through them all. She writes with insight, compassion and sensitivity, drawing the reader into the heart and minds of the Hardy family so vividly that you feel everything alongside them. 

I loved the choice to tell the story in dual timelines and have just two family members as narrators. I think this helped me to feel a deep connection with both Nell and Annie. As the tangled weave of secrets slowly unravelled I felt like I lived it alongside them, breaking my heart as theirs did, shedding tears with them and silently telling them they could get through this. I feel like if other narrators had been involved  it would have diluted the emotional impact of Annie and Nell’s stories. Plus, the author still manages to convey the effect of events on the other characters through the lens of the two women.

Powerful, poignant and heart-rending, this hits you right in the heart and soul. A moving and compelling story that I highly recommend. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5

TW: death of a child. Please contact me for any other trigger warnings.

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Hannah Beckerman is a bestselling author and journalist whose novels have been translated into more than a dozen languages worldwide. She is a book critic and features writer for a range of publications including The Observer and the FT Weekend Magazine, and has appeared as a book pundit on BBC Radio 2 and Times Radio. She chairs literary events across the UK, interviewing authors and celebrities, and has judged numerous book prizes including the Costa Book Awards. Prior to writing her first novel, Hannah was a television producer and commissioning editor for the BBC, Channel 4 and the Discovery Channel, and for two years lived in Bangladesh, running a TV project for the BBC. She now lives in London where she writes full-time.

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones*| Bookshop.org*| Amazon
*These are affiliate links

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Please check out the reviews from the other bloggers taking part in the tour.

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Blog Tour: The Rabbit Factor by Antti Toumainen

Published: October 28th, 2021
Publisher: Orenda Books
Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Format: Hardcover, Kindle

Welcome to my stop on the tour for this quirky and entertaining thriller. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and to Karen at Orenda for the eBook ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

An insurance mathematician’s carefully ordered life is turned on its head when he unexpectedly loses his job and inherits an adventure park … with a whole host of problems. A quirky, tense and warmly funny thriller from award-winning Finnish author Antti Tuomainen.
 
**Soon to be a major motion picture starring Steve Carell for Amazon Studios**

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Just one spreadsheet away from chaos…

What makes life perfect? Insurance mathematician Henri Koskinen knows the answer because he calculates everything down to the very last decimal.

And then, for the first time, Henri is faced with the incalculable. After suddenly losing his job, Henri inherits an adventure park from his brother – its peculiar employees and troubling financial problems included. The worst of the financial issues appear to originate from big loans taken from criminal quarters … and some dangerous men are very keen to get their money back.

But what Henri really can’t compute is love. In the adventure park, Henri crosses paths with Laura, an artist with a chequered past, and a joie de vivre and erratic lifestyle that bewilders him. As the criminals go to extreme lengths to collect their debts and as Henri’s relationship with Laura deepens, he finds himself faced with situations and emotions that simply cannot be pinned down on his spreadsheets…

Warmly funny, rich with quirky characters and absurd situations, The Rabbit Factor is a triumph of a dark thriller, its tension matched only by its ability to make us rejoice in the beauty and random nature of life.

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MY REVIEW:

When Insurance Mathematician Henri Koshkinen’s brother passes away suddenly, leaving him his adventure park and a last wish to make it profitable, his perfectly ordered world is turned upside down. What follows is a quirky, funny, refreshing and entertaining novel that you won’t forget. 

From the tense prologue that had me reading in breathless anticipation, I was hooked and couldn’t put the book down. Both the writing style and Henri, who is our narrator, have a distinct and original voice that manages to find that sweet spot of being compelling and totally believable no matter how far-fetched and absurd the antics became. Deftly plotted, sharp and succinct, it will have you laughing out loud one moment, cringing the next, and then have you on the edge of your seat in suspense. 

I’ve never met or read about anyone quite like Henri. He’s ordered, sensible and more than a little odd. He’s the sort of person you might avoid if he worked in your office, yet I soon found myself adoring this strange man and rooting for him every step of the way. I loved how he was written; so sure of himself and his way of looking at the world, yet he slowly finds himself opening up and changing in unexpected ways, while also managing to change others by being unapologetically himself. The novel has been picked up to be adapted into a film starring Steve Carrel as Henri and he truly is perfect for the role. It could have been written for him. As I read I could hear his voice speaking every word and see him like I was already watching it on the screen. 

This is one of those books where saying too much about the plot will ruin your enjoyment of the book. You just need to read it and enjoy the crazy ride that it takes you on. And, boy, does this one take you on a wild rollercoaster ride. 

Wacky, witty and addictive, this one-of-a-kind thriller is not to be missed. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Finnish Antti Tuomainen was an award-winning copywriter when he made his literary debut in 2007 as a suspense author. The critically acclaimed My Brother’s Keeper was published two years later. In 2011, Tuomainen’s third novel, The Healer, was awarded the Clue Award for ‘Best Finnish Crime Novel of 2011’ and was shortlisted for the Glass Key Award. The Finnish press labelled The Healer – the story of a writer desperately searching for his missing wife in a post-apocalyptic Helsinki – ‘unputdownable’. Two years later, in 2013, they crowned Tuomainen ‘The King of Helsinki Noir’ when Dark as My Heart was published. With a piercing and evocative style, Tuomainen was one of the first to challenge the Scandinavian crime genre formula, and his poignant, dark and hilarious The Man Who Died became an international bestseller, shortlisting for the Petrona and Last Laugh Awards. Palm Beach Finland (2018) was an immense success, with The Times calling Tuomainen ‘the funniest writer in Europe’, and Little Siberia (2019) was shortlisted for the Capital Crime/Amazon Publishing Readers Awards, the Last Laugh Award and the CWA International Dagger, and won the Petrona Award for Best Scandinavian Crime Novel. The Rabbit Factor is the first book in Antti’s first-ever series. Follow

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MEET THE TRANSLATOR:

David Hackston is a British translator of Finnish and Swedish literature and drama. He graduated from University College London with a degree in Scandinavian Studies and now lives in Helsinki where he works as a freelance translator. Notable recent publications include the Anna Fekete trilogy by Kati Hiekkapelto, Katja Kettu’s wartime epic The Midwife, four novels by ‘Helsinki noir’ author Antti Tuomainen, and Pajtim Statovci’s enigmatic My Cat Yugoslavia and Crossing. His drama translations include three plays by Heini Junkkaala, most recently Play it, Billy! (2012) about the life and times of jazz pianist Billy Tipton. David was a regular contributor to Books from Finland until its discontinuation in 2015. In 2007, he was awarded the Finnish State Prize for Translation. David is also a professional countertenor and has studied early music and performance practice in Helsinki and Portugal. He is a founding member of the English Vocal Consort of Helsinki.

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BUY THE BOOK:

Orenda Books| Waterstones*| Bookshop.org*| Amazon| Google Books
| Apple Books | Kobo
*These are affiliate links

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Please check out the reviews from the other bloggers taking part in the tour.

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Blog Tour: The Man Who Died Twice (The Thursday Murder Club 2) by Richard Osman

Published: September 16th, 2021
Publisher: Viking
Genre: Mystery, Crime Novel, Cozy Mystery
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this delightful cosy mystery. Thank you to Ellie at Viking for the invitation to take part and the proof copy of the book.

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SYNOPSIS:

THE SECOND NOVEL IN THE RECORD-BREAKING, MILLION-COPY BESTSELLING THURSDAY MURDER CLUB SERIES BY RICHARD OSMAN

It’s the following Thursday.

Elizabeth has received a letter from an old colleague, a man with whom she has a long history. He’s made a big mistake, and he needs her help. His story involves stolen diamonds, a violent mobster, and a very real threat to his life.

As bodies start piling up, Elizabeth enlists Joyce, Ibrahim and Ron in the hunt for a ruthless murderer. And if they find the diamonds too? Well, wouldn’t that be a bonus?

But this time they are up against an enemy who wouldn’t bat an eyelid at knocking off four septuagenarians. Can The Thursday Murder Club find the killer (and the diamonds) before the killer finds them?

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MY REVIEW:

“Time flies when you are living it.” 

We’re back with the Thursdays Murder Club.

The second installment in this charming series picks up the following Thursday after the events of book one. Elizabeth has received a cryptic message from someone from her past that sets in motion a chain of events involving stolen diamonds, mobsters and murder. 

I was delighted to be back with this gang of unlikely amateur sleuths for what was one of my most anticipated books this year. I found that it not only lived up to its whip-smart, richly crafted and brilliantly written predecessor, but surpassed it. The secret? Feeling like you’re reconnecting with old friends. Not only did it feel like I was right there with them, but I felt like I could be part of the gang. Ok, maybe not one of the actual Thursday Murder Club, but an outside helper like police officers Chris and Donna, who are also back to help this intrepid quartet in their investigations. 

Pensioners behaving badly is something I will never tire of reading, especially when it’s done this well. The characters are authentic, intriguing and memorable; each having that spark that makes you take them into your heart. Then when you add in the camaraderie, loyalty and love they have for one another, you have the perfect mix that just makes you want to keep reading about these people. I loved how their bonds of friendship had been strengthened by the events of book one, and seeing how both their antics and friendship with one another has impacted them individually. Joyce in particular shone out for me in this installment and has become my favourite member of the Thursday Murder Club. 

Cosy, comforting, witty and uplifting, reading this book is like a warm cup of tea on a cold day. Once again Richard Osman has knocked it out of the park with his masterful storytelling, dynamic characters, vivid world-building and funny dialogue. It is these things that make this series feel so fresh and stand out from the crowd in the saturated crime and cosy mysteries market. It was a joy to read, allowing the author to take me on a wild and entertaining ride as the story unfolded before me. I’m already excited about revisiting this lively bunch in book three. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Richard Osman is an author, producer and television presenter. The Thursday Murder Club is his first novel. He is well known for TV shows including Pointless and Richard Osman’s House of Games. As the creative director of Endemol UK, Richard has worked as an executive producer on numerous shows including Deal Or No Deal and 8 Out of 10 Cats. He is also a regular on panel and game shows such as Have I Got News For You, Would I Lie To You and Taskmaster.

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones*| Bookshop.org* | Amazon| Google Books| Apple Books | Kobo
*These are affiliate links

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Please check out the reviews from the other bloggers taking part in the tour.

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews Uncategorised

Blog Tour: The Girl at my Door by Rebecca Griffiths

Published: September 23rd, 2021
Publisher: Bookouture
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Historical Fiction, Crime Fiction
Format: Kindle, Paperback, Audio

Happy Publication Day to this addictive and menacing thriller. Thank you Bookouture for the invitation to take part and the gifted ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

The young friends were unaware of the man who had followed them through the park. With his trilby pulled down, he moved stealthily through the trees. He was careful and kept to the shadows. He worried it might not have been his wisest move to join the girl on the bench but hadn’t been able to resist seeing her sitting alone like that: she was his absolute ideal.

London 1949: Queenie Osbourne and her best friend Joy are walking through the bustling city streets looking forward to a bright future. The two friends have a striking beauty which draws everyone to them. Queenie dreams of making her fortune as a singer in America and Joy is engaged to wealthy bachelor Charles Gilchrist.

As they prepare for the wedding, it becomes clear that there is a spark between Queenie and Charles and soon they commit the ultimate betrayal. But Queenie’s dream is shattered in an instant when she discovers she is pregnant.

With nowhere else to turn, Queenie is told about a man named John Reginald Christie. He helps women like her and will keep her secret. But as she stands on the steps outside 10 Rillington Place, she feels instantly threatened.

On the other side of the door, Reg Christie is waiting. Queenie doesn’t know that he has been watching her for a long time. To Reg she is perfect in every way. Now, all she has to do is knock…

Inspired by the true crime story of the Rillington Place killer John Reginald Christie, this is a chilling mystery based on a fictional cast of characters. Fans of Gregg Olsen, Louise Douglas and Jess Lourey will be hooked.

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MY REVIEW:

“He’s a dark one, he is. A right queer fish… It seems we got him quite wrong.”

As soon as I read the synopsis for this book I knew I had to read it. True crime mixed with a historical murder mystery? It was like it was written for me.

I think most of us are familiar with the name John Reginald Christie and the awful  events that occurred behind the closed doors of 10 Rillington Place. The address alone lives in infamy; conjuring up images of helpless young women at the mercy of a sick and depraved man. In this novel the author merges fact with fiction, taking real people and real things that occurred, and combining them with fictional characters and events to create an intoxicating thriller that reads like non-fiction. I found myself googling characters and events to double check what was fact and what wasn’t as it all felt so authentic that it could have been featured in a true crime documentary. 

Atmospheric and utterly engrossing, Griffiths transported me back to post-war London with such evocative descriptions and prose that I felt like I could see the dim gaslit streets and choking smog. The story is told by multiple narrators that were richly drawn, captivating and memorable, vividly putting me in each of their shoes. But as wonderfully as they were all written, what stood out to me most of all was Christie. It felt like she really got inside the mind of this sick and twisted killer. There is a pervading sense of unease as we witness him skulking around and stalking his prey, get glimpses into his depraved fantasies, and watch as he wears a mask of ordinariness to disguise himself. He sent shivers down my spine every time he was on the page and it felt authentic and I never questioned what I was reading, except that it was fiction. It was as if she’d found his journals and transcribed them.

Part of the problem with writing a book based on a well-known serial killer, is that we know how the story ends. Or we think we do. By combining fact and fiction the author is able to surprise the reader with unexpected twists. But for me, the real talent is when they can take those familiar events and still have you on the edge of your seat with your heart in your throat. And Ms. Griffiths did that again and again. As we hurtle towards those scenes where we know how it ends, there is still that rising sense of foreboding and frisson of fear that makes it impossible to stop reading. I was so invested in the story and so connected to the characters that I wanted to jump into the pages and stop it. To find a way to travel back in time to change the course of history. To scream a warning at Queenie not to go to Rillington Place because she wouldn’t find a solution, only her doom. My heart was racing so fast I felt like it was going to beat out of my chest as I waited to see if she was saved, forgetting for a moment that history has already been written and, those who step inside Rillington Place are beyond our help. 

In 1949 Britain was still recovering from the war and was in a time of great change: rationing was still in effect, homes were being rebuilt, people were readjusting to normal life, women were gaining independence and the newly established NHS was changing medicine and health for the better. But it was a time caught between the old and the new as patriarchal expectations remained prevalent and homosexuality and abortion were still illegal. The author touches on and examines these topics in varying detail over the course of the book. I was deeply moved by how she portrayed Terrance’s fear that his homosexuality will be discovered and his torment at being seen as a criminal for simply loving another man. And I found the discussion of desperate, backstreet abortions to be particularly timely with the recent legislation in Texas of the so-called ‘Heartbeat Bill’. It is a potent reminder that making such things against the law doesn’t stop them, only puts lives in danger as desperate people take desperate risks.

Deliciously dark, menacing, suspenseful and unsettling, The Girl at my Door is an addictive thriller that you won’t be able to put down. This was my first foray into Rebecca Griffiths’ books but it certainly won’t be my last. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Rebecca Griffiths grew up in mid-Wales and went on to gain a first class honours degree in English Literature. After a successful business career in London, Dublin and Scotland she returned to rural mid-Wales where she lives with her husband, a prolific artist, their four black rescue cats, two pet sheep the size of sofas and writes full time. 

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones*| Amazon | Google Books| Apple Books| Kobo
*This is an affiliate link

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Please check out the reviews from the other bloggers taking part in the tour.

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Blog Tour: What She Did by Carla Kovach

Published: September 20th, 2021
Publisher: Bookouture
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Psychological Thriller, Noir Fiction, Crime Fiction
Format: Kindle, Paperback, Audio

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this gripping thriller. Thank you to Bookouture for the invitation to take part and the gifted ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

Marissa lives alone in her tiny one-bed apartment. It’s quiet and safe; all she’s ever wanted. But when the police knock on her door with the news that her last remaining family member has died, she comes face to face with the family secret she has spent a lifetime running from.

A witness saw her car outside his house that day, but Marissa knows she’s innocent. She hasn’t seen her uncle in years and remembers going to bed in her own home that night. But she’s had blackouts before and can’t always trust her memory.

Days later, Marissa’s neighbour is found dead in his home, exactly like her uncle. It was no secret that Marissa didn’t get on with her neighbour, but she’d never want to see him hurt.

As you read, you’ll think you know where to draw the line between innocence and guilt. But blame is a dangerous thing, and nothing is ever what it seems…

Perfect for fans of C.L. Taylor, Teresa Driscoll and Lisa Jewell, What She Did is a dark and twisty crime thriller that will keep you up all night!

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MY REVIEW:

I am a big fan of Carla Kovach’s Gina Harte series so when I heard that she’d written her first standalone thriller, I was excited to read it. As much as I love a series I always enjoy getting to know fresh characters in a standalone and I was interested to see if this would have the same vibe as the series or feel totally different. 

What She Did is a taut, tense and gripping thriller that centres around a young woman named Marissa who has a tragic backstory full of loss, heartache and trauma.  When she was just  five-years-old she witnessed her mother’s murder while hiding under the bed. The killer was never caught and she is still haunted by that night and lives in fear that the killer will one day come back for her too. Sadly, that night was just the beginning of her nightmare, and when she went to live with her aunt and uncle she found not solace, but cruelty and abuse. These events, and other secrets she is hiding, still linger and have left her isolated, fearful and scared to trust. 

Now twenty-eight and living in an apartment and working towards her dream of owning the cottage that was special to her and her mother, Marissa’s life spirals out of control after her uncle is murdered. She can’t remember where she was or what she did the night it happened and, plagued by sleepwalking since childhood, she can’t trust her memory of events. Could she have killed him? When the neighbour she has been arguing with is also found dead just a few days later after a similar blackout, Marissa really begins to question what’s going on. She is sure she didn’t kill them. But how can she prove it when she can’t remember? And why does it seem like someone is out to frame her?

Carla Kovach has proven with this book that she can write any thriller and knock it out of the park. As much as I love the Gina Harte series and her team, this novel shows us that even with all new characters and a totally different storyline, she can keep you on the edge of your seat from start to finish. The story moves seamlessly between dual timelines using flashbacks to significant events in Marissa’s life. This was a vital tool in helping us to understand her paranoid and skittish behaviour, inability to trust and why she has almost no friends or family. I just wanted to reach into the book, put my arms around her, and comfort her, especially in the scenes when she is a young child; I wanted to protect her from witnessing her mother’s murder or rescue her from her vile aunt and uncle’s clutches. Her pain was palpable and my heart broke for her.

But Marissa is also an unreliable narrator and we are never quite sure what is true and what is paranoia. While I was rooting for her and wanted her to be innocent, part of me was never quite sure, and I really enjoyed that. I think it’s a talent to make a reader like a character while also making it possible that they have committed awful crimes, and Ms. Kovach pulled it off expertly. This unreliability also meant that we were never sure if she really is being followed or set up, so it made it hard to know what to make of some of the other characters and know if things were red herrings. I loved the tension this added and how it kept me on my toes. And when the truth was revealed I was totally blindsided by a scenario that I had never even contemplated. Bravo, Ms. Kovach. Bravo.

Captivating and twisty, What She Did is a first-rate psychological thriller from one of my favourite writers in the genre. Definitely one not to be missed.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Carla started writing more seriously ten years ago after having flirted with musical theatre and occasional writing in her youth.

Since then she has written & produced several stage plays, has four self-published books, has acted in several independent films and is currently in the final stages of production of her feature horror film, Penny for the Guy.

She now writes full time as well as co-owning a film, photography & video production company located in the heart of Redditch town centre.

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones*| Amazon | Google Books| Apple Books| Kobo
*This is an affiliate link

********

Please check out the reviews from the other bloggers taking part in the tour.

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx